tv Charlie Rose PBS May 9, 2012 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
>> charlie: welcome to our program. tonight we begin with bill bradley, former nba all star, rhodes scholar, u.s. senator, presidential candidate who has written a new book called "we can all do better." it is about politics, economics, tax reform and american hope. >> can we all do better? the answer is yes. it's not just the politicians but it's us as individuals. can we find that place of self fulfillment within ourselves to honor. and we manage our health well. can we save? can we use over moment to try to become better in terms of learning more about the world we're in, whether that's reading novels or economic treatises. to me, that is what i wanted to try to convey here, that, you know, we can all do better. >> charlie: we continue this evening with eli broad.
his book is called "the art of being unreasonable." it chronicles his career from businessman to cultural leader to philanthropist. i don't take no for an answer. i always ask why not when people say you can't do that. it hasn't been done before. i say why not? and i listen. rarely do i great a answer. if i don't get a great answer to why not i go ahead. >> charlie: bradley and broad when we continue. funding for charlie rose was provided by the following.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. charlie: bill bradley is here. he's a former new jersey senator and presidential candidate. while senator he was instrumental in forging a bipartisan tax policy agreement with president ronald reagan. before entering politics he played for the new york knicks.
in his ten-year career he won two nba championships. in a new book he talks about the state of our economy and political gridlock in washington. it is called "we can all do better." i am pleased to have him here back at this table. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. >> charlie: do you know we have known each other almost 40 years plus. >> i know. it's been one of the great joys of my life. >> charlie: you were the hero. you were the guy who i studied. bill bradley is... i mean, how can you be better than bill bradley? you were going to come to duke and went to princeton, became ncaa all american and then became a roads skoal or and then become an nba all star and then became an olympian and then a united states senator. >> i like the way this clock is ticking. >> charlie: i'm just sitting there saying, oh, my god. how great it is to be bill bradley. you know? so congratulations for being bill bradley. >> my goodness. that's the nicest anything has said to me today. >> charlie: you get it all the
time, don't you? >> no. >> charlie: if you walk out on to a basketball court. let's assume it's an empty gym. somebody throws you the ball. you are behind. out of 25, how many would you sink behind the key? >> i'd take five to warm up. then i think might sink out of the remaining 20 maybe eight. >> charlie: eight. and at your best, how many would you sink? >> well, when i was in high school, i would... had a routine where i had hit 25 in a row from five spots. >> charlie: before you would go home. >> if i get to 24 and i miss, i'm back at zero. >> charlie: that's what i mean. >> by the time i got to my last year with the knicks, it was 10 of 13 because the concentration went. >> charlie: really? >> when you concentrate, 25 in a row five spots, you're concentrating. the longer i played, the more my mind wandered and the less
i concentrated. >> charlie: even when you were an nba all star. >> this is getting into shape. not during the season but getting into shape. >> charlie: what is it we don't understand about the difference between becoming a professional athlete and how good you have to be? >> well, i think that people don't appreciate the level of excellence and the dedication that goes into being the best in sports. everybody that has played sports and it's a great thing, a great experience. forms values, et cetera, et cetera. but if you really want to develop your full potential, it takes a full commitment. when i was in high school, i would do three hours a day monday through friday for nine months a year and six and seven hours on saturday and sunday. some people probably thought i had my values in the wrong place. but that's what it takes. everybody i ever played with did the same thing. everybody i ever played with put in the time to be the best
they could be. there's a great story. one man used to play on roosevelt playground in gary, indiana. kids are going to the high school prom and he's out there on the court. i asked what do you think they were thinking? he said when they heard the ball bouncing it was me, barnett on is roosevelt playground. that's the price that's paid. there's no shortcut. >> charlie: when you take your last breath, is the fondest memory going to be what and where? >> i think the fondest memory will be friends that i have over the years. i think if you're asking the question about basketball or politics, i mean, you know, the greatest honor was being elected three times from new jersey to the u.s. senate. all that did was give me the chance to work 16 hours a day to prove that the people weren't wrong. the greatest thrill was winning the nba championship twice. i mean, you know, it's black and white. you've won the championship.
your fists are in the air. chills are going up and down your spine. your face aches because you're smiling. it lasts about two days. >> charlie: my point is, how hard it is to do that. how hard it is to become a national champion, to become an nba or an nfl or, you know, an american league all star. >> what happens is you have to have a joy in doing it. it took me a long while. a long while i was just dedicated to the game and discipline, discipline. i was probably in my third year with knicks before i real he'll found the joy in the game and could actually understand what was happening in terms of my own state of mind. those were transporting moments. >> charlie: what's the title of john mcphee's book? >> where you are. >> charlie: that's part of it. a sense of where you are. >> in this case it means seeing the whole court. you see the whole court meaning you see the path that leads to the basket which is
not different than politics or business. you can see things that other people can't see. that's what distinguishes the best. >> charlie: in a different way, i mean, i talk to a lot of people who have had remarkable achievement. rather than success per se. they say there's something to be said for being able to connect the dots, to see how this connects to this connects. >> no question about that. if you are... and the whole of politics today, it's always one answer to one issue. issues are connected. you have to see the whole. to the extent that you can see the whole, then you can talk about the whole. if you're a politician who talks only about taxes or education or this or that.... >> charlie: foreign policy. >> counties you are in a silo. the world isn't silos. the world is an integrated whole. >> charlie: you said one thing about being a senator and someone asked you what you misseded about it. you missed the capacity to look into the eyes of people who have given you their confidence, you know, as well
as their hope. "i need you to help me." >> i miss two things. one is not doing public policy 20 hours a day and the other is the people. that is part of it where they look to you and they bring their angers and their joys and their hopes. you're the custodian of those. if you honorably do your job, you have to try to honor that. you have to have try to be the best you can be for them. but you can never be the same for everybody because everybody has different views of what you should be but you have to be yourself. >> charlie: you were senator from '79 to '97. >> that's correct. >> charlie: why did you give it up? >> i gave it up because i thought it was time to move on. >> charlie: move on to what? >> well, whatever was out there for me. i thought that i also might want to run for president and therefore i thought i couldn't do that from the senate. that was another factor. >> charlie: and you did. >> and i did. >> charlie: three years later.
>> a long remembered moment. >> charlie: because your timing was wrong. you should have run four years earlier. >> who knows. >> charlie: i'm going to put you on record here. you have said to me, i chose the wrong time. >> obviously i chose the wrong time. >> charlie: of course because you lost. maybe you weren't a good presidential candidate. >> who knows? obviously it didn't work. >> charlie: is it hard to let that go? >> absolutely not. >> charlie: not at all. >> absolutely not. no. i mean, you put your best out there. it didn't work. life goes on. if you've defined your life's success only in terms of if you were president, there are very few people who would be successes. you have to be true to yourself, to your own strengths and weaknesses and to your deeper humanity and then move on. >> charlie: how do you fashion your role today in terms of what you hope is your contribution beyond what you do with family and colleagues and business? >> well, you mean in the public life. >> charlie: i mean in life. >> you know, this book "we can
all do better" is an example of that. last summer i watched the debt limit debacle. i'd seen middle class families struggle. the median income in 2010 was the same as in 1996. we were in two wars. and then the other fact was i thought people were beginning to lose hope that we could actually do something. i wrote this book as a response to that.... >> charlie: to say to them, do not lose hope. >> do not lose hope. i wanted to remind them of hope. i wanted to remind them we've had problems in the past, depressions, wars, we've overcome them all. i wanted to remind them that there's a goodness in the american people. i have this radio program called american voices. i listen to people tell their stories. stories usually into two kalt goers. one category is somebody has got an unusual job like the guy that washes windows on sky scrapers or public health
nurse. the other are jobs that we can all do better are celebrated in chapter 5 called celebrating selflessness. i tell some of the stories from the radio shows. >> charlie: when you were senator, i remember the story-- and i think al or someone wrote about this. you went out to chicago and just quietly tried to listen to people. so that they would inform the judgments you made about policy issues. >> well, i had this idea that if you were going to understand america, you had to experience america. where's that's an urban center or whether that's, you know, kay june country in louisiana or a wheat farmer in south dakota you had to go there and physically understand it not on the typical politician listening tour which is really not listening but making so- called news. >> charlie: decide whether i should run for the senate. >> but trying to get the feel for what you were representing. >> charlie: i'll tell you
what. it's been a while for me. i can remember or i can believe that i've heard someone, you know, in the public arena who is a candidate-- you certainly read it-- who has captured that from a narrative that he has stitched or she has stitched together and in a sense captures the soul of america, its yearning, its frustration. >> i always thought trying was important. i mean, the book "we can all do better" comes from a lincoln speech in 1862 where we're at war for a year. the time before the emancipation proclamation. lincoln made this amazing speech to the congress in which he says among other things, we can only succeed by concert which means working together. it's not imagine better but can all of us do better? that's a question that's relevant today. can we all do better? you look at the fra jilt and inequality of our economy. you look at the direction of
our foreign policy and the paralysis of our national die... dialogue. and can we all do better? the answer is yes. it's not just the politicians but us as individuals. can we find that place of selflessness within ourselves to honor? can we, you know, manage our health well? can we save? can we use every moment to try to become better in terms of learning more about the world we're in, whether they're reading novels or economic treatises? to me that is what i wanted to try to convey here. you know, we can all do better. here are some ways and things to think about. >> charlie: each chapter ends with the single line, can we all do better with a question mark? so why don't we do better? >> well, i think that we get caught up in our own worlds. i mean the reality is, you know, in 2008 on that night in chicago, election night, we elected barack obama. i think we made the mistake of thinking a leader can renew
our country all by himself. but even somebody who touched our lives as deeply as barack obama can't do it alone. a leader says this is the direction we should go in but it takes citizens, it takes sergeants, lieutenants. if we don't realize and act on the fact that democracy is not a vicarious experience, then, you know, we're going to get.... >> charlie: why didn't barack obama, what's the argument that he did not have sergeants and lieutenants? i mean clearly he did have sergeants and lieutenants. he didn't get there by himself and he didn't govern by himself. >> what happened was he took this soaring idealism and tried to put it into a culture in washington that it's and threat cal to. i look at, for example, the power of money in washington. just look at 2009-2010. financial industry contributed $318 million to politicians in washington in those two years. the health care industry $145 million. the energy industry $75 million. is it any surprise that we got
watered-down financial reform, that we didn't have a public optional tern tiff to a private insurance and health care bill? we didn't get any energy bill? i mean, that is, i think, directly related to the role money plays in our politics. you combine that with the extremism that comes from the way we.... >> charlie: but money and politics is not a new story. when will it change? >> it will change when there's a movement of people, citizens, that demand it to change. at one point, charlie, in america, there was only one abolitionist who said slavery was wrong. there was only one suffer jet who said women need the right to vote. only one civil rights worker who said we have to perfect the american promise for african americans and only one environmentalist who said we have to clean up our air and water. then there were two and then four and then five. i analogize in the book to the mississippi river that i grew up next two.
one drop and then two drops and a branch, a creek and a small river and then a bigger river. there it is the mississippi. that's like democracy. if we lose sight of that and we think that all this has got to come from the brains of elected representatives, we don't see the strength of america. the strength of america is in the people themselves. you know, in the internet age, apathy is no excuse. if the people, through use of social net work, can have a dramatic effect called the arab spring there's no question that a movement can start in the united states to say let's force our elected representatives to do what we all know is in our interest. >> charlie: you don't sense that movement is happening? >> part of the reason i'm writing this book is try to catalize such a movement. >> charlie: to be a catalyst for that. >> absolutely. when i woke up and looked at these things last summer, i didn't have my hands on the
levers of power. i was just a citizen but i had some experiences. so my fulfillment of my citizenship responsibility i thought wasn't was in part writing this book. >> charlie: let's talk about tax reform as one thing. what would you do? >> well, the question is, why tax reform? and what is tax reform? a lot of people see it in a lot of different ways. if you are saying tax reform in the income tax system that means lower rates and fewer loopholes. do you raise money with that or is it revenue neutral? if you raise money wit, you close more loopholes than you lose by cutting tax rates. that is fundamental. i've often thought if you're going to do this kind of tax reform as we did in 1986, then you need a president who is absolutely committed to it. you need a secretary of treasury that can sit in a room and cut the deal at the end of the negotiation. you need a member... a chairman of the ways and means committee and the finance
committee who see their own political interests serveded by doing this. >> charlie: you had that in '86. >> we had that in '86 as well as this crazy zealot that did only talk about the tax reform for four years. you're looking at him. >> charlie: you didn't run for president and say if you elect me i'm going to eliminate your mortgage deduction which you argue for now. >> no, i don't argue for that. >> charlie: don't you suggest >> i suggest if you want to raise taxes on the upper income one way is to raise rates. the other way is to eliminate... not eliminate but limit loopholes to a 28% rate. the deduction only gets a 28% rate. but in a way, you know, that's income tax reform. in this book i try to talk about how we create jobs because that's the real issue. the middle class in this country. and the fact that they've been stagnant for 25-30 years. i would have you think this through for me. or with me.
on the books of corporations of america are 1.8 trillion dollars in cash and liquid assets. so if 20% of that was used to hire americans at the average salary, average median wage $49,000 a year, it would be 5% unemployment rate. how do we get the money off the books and out of the treasurys hiring workers? a corporate executive would say confidence. >> charlie: confidence in two things. confidence in that the economy and recovery will happen and it's the state of... and confidence there will be consumer demand. >> exactly. it's a question of confidence and demand. so you have to address those things. >> charlie: how do you assure that corporate executive who says i'm sitting on all this cash because i don't have confidence that the economy.... >> you do it in two ways. one way is that you have to get long-term deficit reduction.
by addressing the structural deficit of the country. we've had that opportunity. come november, december, for example. it's going to be a critical moment. if we are able to do that, if not cutting spending or raising taxes in the next two years, but in the out years but making this substantive changes now, we will need to borrow less money from, say, the chinese that have already loaned us $1.4 trillion, right. >> charlie: you also point out that those countrys that have the strongest macro economic position have the maximum political influence. and because of that, the united states had its way in the suez crisis. >> there's no question about that. that's a great story. france, britain and israel invade egypt. eisenhower is incensed. so eisenhower directs the treasury short the pound and also block the british from withdrawing what their allotment is from the imf.
the pound is plummeting. they get the message. two weeks later or a month later they pull out ofthe middle east. that's because we had the economic power. >> charlie: you fear china can possibly have that kind of leverage around the world soon? >> well, charlie, i refer you to a "new york times" front page october 29, 2011, two stories. one story is europeans go to china to ask for investment in euro-rescue fund. the next story is, western business looks to libya for investment. one is a story about us picking over the remains of one more venture in the middle east. the other is a story of a burgeoning economic power using its economic muscle. we have to wake up. the chinese are planning a long-term gain while we're in wealth-sapping, people-sapping wars. the chinese are doing things like, well, we want to build
fast rails from china to southeast asia across europe to central asia. across central asia to europe. we want to, you know, begin to drain resources around the world. we'll put in dams on the rivers to flow into southeast asia so without one gunshot, we will have an impact on that region. the chinese are planning a long-term gain. we have to wake up and realize that that is the long-term gain that we have to be playing too. it can't be as a first response a military response. the 21st century will be defined by economic performance. you were talking about the problem with unlocking corporate dollars. one is confidence. the other is demand. what do you do about demand? you have a massive infrastructure program. i mean massive.
$1 trillion. $200 billion a year. if you did that, where would the money come from? well, you've reduced the deficit so there's less demand. the chinese still have dollars so they are the anchor investor in reconstruction bonds that will give us the resources to lay the foundation for economic growth for the next 70 years. so the idea is we've got to see the game that's being played. the chinese are our rivals but they can also be our partners. we have to be aware that, you know, it's not a military competition. >> charlie: it's also political in terms of iran and syria. >> absolutely. >> charlie: in some places it's a combination of china and the united states and perhaps russia and significant places in europe. could make a huge difference. they're not pulling together on these kinds of things. there's competition in chinese and the russians are vetoing certain initiatives. >> you'll never get a country with as long a history as china with the people as proud as it is with the perception of its own interest in the
word. >> charlie: what happened to the chinese dissident over there? what does that say to you about china? >> well, it says to me that china doesn't have a human rights situation similar to the united states. the real question is.... >> charlie: it says to me something different. it says to me they're scared of something. what is it they're scared of? >> well, what would happen if they unleash people in a democracy. they have a party that wants to control the country. they have an economic agenda that they want to develop. they've delivered a higher standards of living for their people but they put a cap on political expression. >> charlie: what would you do about the bush tax cuts speaking of this fiscal cliff that we have? >> i think the bush tax cuts expire. >> charlie: right. >> there's no reason that... it would have to be part of a much bigger deal. if you say we're going to keep the rate at 35 which is what we did with gary hart, balanced the budget by 2020. if you said you're going to
keep the rates at 35, you'd have to close loopholes.... >> charlie: but you talk about increasing the marginal rate for individual income tax if in fact you raised the corporate tax. >> well, i'm saying that's one option. that's what what they do in europe, low corporate tax, high individual tax. >> charlie: value-added tax essential? >> i don't think it's essential. it answers problem to revenue in a consumption based economy. >> charlie: if you look at the debt that we face as a percentage of g.d.p. which we can't sustain. >> no we can't sustain it. we have to act. if question is do we push austerity right now or do we put together a package that i've described that would generate growth? you're never going to be able to cut your way to the answer here. you have to grow your way to the answer. you grow your way by creating jocks that are well paying. you do that which by getting the money off the books out of the.... >> charlie: you offer
incentive for companies to get money off the books. there's no incentive to giving a tax break if you spend money. >> the only tax break i would give them is if you hire somebody today for this next two years, if you hire somebody today, then the federal government will pay 30% of the cost of that job up to $25,000 a person. when you fire nobody, that is the best way. you spend $1, you create a job. as opposed to various tax cuts that disperse the effect over a lot of territory and the public doesn't see the connection to a job. >> charlie: do you believe the political process that we're now engaged in will end up with a smart debate about these ideas or will it end up as a political campaign in which the winner will be decided by who can tear down the other person better? >> i'm sorry to say that i expect it will be the latter. i mean, there have been times in american history when
points of view were irwreck son silable. right before the civil war. >> charlie: is that where we are right now? >> i think not. there's another hope. it's what i write about in the book. we either have a dominant party or you have a balance and there's bipartisanship. or there's an emergence of a third party. not a presidential party. a congressional party dedicated three or four specific objectives with specific policies that if they were elected-- and you have 20 or 25-- that they would cut deals to move their agenda which would be the national agenda that both parties won't move because of their special constituencies in part related to money. you then have a catalyst to begin to address the real problems the country has. >> charlie: i have i believe you have to get down in the trenches. when you get in the trenches, that's what's going to be necessary. it really is. not just you but lots of
people. people in the private sector have to get more involved than simply funding congressional... funding political races or lobbying in order to see an economy that works best for them. >> no question about that. that's what i'm talking about. citizen involvement. unless you have citizen involvement and a movement, then you're not going to be able to effect the current political system that structurally is dysfunctional. structurally dysfunctional because of the way we draw congressional district lines that rewards extremism and dysfunctional because of the role money plays in politics that you remedy with a constitutional amendment that says you may limit the amount of money spent in campaigns at the state and local levels. >> charlie: here is somebody that bill bradley and i both know well. the former prime minister of singapore. bill braid bradley has examined the most important issues america must deal with.
that from lee kuan yew. the book from lincoln "we can all do better." the writer from missouri, bill bradley. thank you. >> thank you, charlie. always a pleasure. >> charlie: back in a moment. stay with us. eli broad is here. he is one of the world's most prominent philanthropists. he began his career as the head of two fortune 500 companies and is now world class art collector and a leader in the development of downtown los angeles. his foundation is also at the forefront of medical research and education reform. he talks about the secrets to his success in a new book called "the art of being unreasonable."
and a point of personal privilege, i will say to you that eli broad has underwritten some programs we did about education. looking at a bipartisan approaches to education. i'm pleased to have him at this table and to talk about an interesting life and some of the lessons that he has earn willed from that life so thank you for coming. >> good to be here again. >> charlie: we'll talk about education which is one of your passions. medical scientific research is one of your passions and art is one of your passions. what paid it all possible was business success. lithuanian parents? >> exactly. >> charlie: immigrants. >> immigrants. >> charlie: born in the bronx. they made their way to detroit. >> beginning of world war ii without my consent. >> charlie: you were an only child. >> only child. >> charlie: had... he ran department stores, little five and dime stores. >> five and dime stores. two of them, yeah. >> charlie: you were dyslexic. >> i was dyslexic. >> charlie: did you know? did you have any idea? >> no, they didn't what dyslexia was then.
it was many many years later that i found out i was dyslexic. >> charlie: it's harder for me to read than it is for other people or any of that stuff? >> it was harder but i wasn't sure why. >> charlie: did you always have a great success with numbers because in the end you majored in accounting. >> i did that. that came later. but when i was dyslexic in the early years i didn't have great success with numbers. somehow i grew out of all that. >> charlie: what you did is started a business. what in 19-what? >> 1956. at age 23. >> reporter: you saw a schans at age 23 to create a company to make houses. >> exactly. >> charlie: you needed a bit of money so you went to your wife's.... >> father-in-law. a lovely man. borrowed $12,500. >> charlie: and then started the business. >> with a person who is ten years my senior. >> charlie: what was the idea? >> the idea was to build homes
without basements. all the home builders in detroit said no one will buy a home without a basement. but i had gone to ohio, several cities, indiana, they were building homes without basements. so we built a home without a basement. we offered a carport. you know what? it was 15% less than other homes and people bought them. we sold out 17 homes the first weekend which was amazing. >> charlie: then you expanded all over the place. i mean not just michigan but all over the place. >> yes. first it was the number of locations in south eastern michigan. then it was arizona, california, chicago. >> charlie: france? >> france, yes, '66 france we started a big company in france. it's still there doing very well. >> charlie: and then you decided that there was a real opportunity in the financial retirement business.
>> in 1971, charlie, we acquired a company called sun life insurance company of america. based in baltimore, founded in 1890. and we just kept it and watched it for a number of years. i said you know what? we've got to find a market niche. we found a market niche that turned out to be a great success. retirement savings. mutual funds, annuities. financial planning services and the like. from that acquisition which was in the $50-odd million we ended up selling it to a.i.g.for $18 billion. >> charlie: sun america. >> yes. that was the best performer on the new york stock exchange for a decade. >> charlie: how long did you wait before you said i'm going to leave the active running of the business is. >> well, i stayed on for two years and then i stayed on board of a.i.g.for another
year-and-a-half. >> charlie: and then what year was that? that was about.... >> that was about 11 years ago. >> charlie: in the meantime you had moved to california. >> yes. moved to cal... california actually in 1963. >> charlie: you were what? 31. >> yes. >> charlie: you're now? you just celebrated.... >> 78. i'll be 79 next month. >> charlie: had a big birthday in l.a., as i remember. >> yep, yep, i did. >> charlie: once you go to california you're a business success. as this business is growing you're getting wealthier and wealthier and wealthier. there was a parallel development for you. a curiosity about how you can contribute to your city. >> exactly. >> charlie: and a parallel interest in the arts. >> that's correct. >> charlie: tell me about that. >> my wife edie, who is wonderful, was the first collector of art. and i would come back from business trips, look at the prints she acquired and so on.
and then one day i became interested. i met a man by the name of tap shriver who was a great collector. i learned from his clients which included edward g. robinson, et cetera. he introduced me to artists, museum curators, directors.... >> charlie: a whole new circle of friends. >> right. i found that fascinating. the first work we bought we thought contemporary. it was a van gogh drawing. we bought it at auction in 1974 here in new york. >> charlie: you did other things. >> we bought a small picasso. we bought a 1933 miles an hour owe. we bought a 1927 matisse drawing. then we kept moving forward in time. i found it far more interesting to be involved in the art of our time, contemporary art. why? you could meet the artists. they have a different view of
life than we business people have. i learned a lot from artists. >> charlie: what have you learned? >> well, i've learned to be broader minded than i otherwise would be. they see society differently than bankers and lawyers and business people do. >> charlie: you switched your focus to contemporary art. >> we did indeed. >> charlie: you always say we. >> edie and i, yes. >> charlie: this has been a joint journey for you together. >> yes. we collected... the collection got rather big. and then we created an art foundation because we wanted to continue collecting. so we built an art foundation of contemporary art that we lent to museums. and university gallerys throughout the world. 8,000 loans, charlie. 480 different institutions in 27 years. >> charlie: then at the same time you began the develop an interest in philanthropy. >> yes, yes. >> charlie: you made gifts to your own alma mater michigan
state. >> we did. that was the first major.... >> charlie: what's the philosophy of philanthropy? >> our philosophy is different than others. some say i just want to give back to the university. they didn't have a full-time mba program so we endowed that. for us to do things, it has to meet three tests. one if other people are doing it, that's fine. two, will it make a difference 20 or 30 years from now? last year people there that can make it happen. that's very different than charity where you just write checks. the 90-plus of all the things we do are things we come up with on our own. not people that come could to us with requests. >> charlie: the principal focus is in education. >> education is the most time consuming. >> charlie: you believe it has huge consequences if we don't get it. >> i sure do. you know, it was 28 years ago
when they wrote a nation at risk. three weeks ago the council on foreign relations came out with a report saying education is a major national security issue. that 70% of people 18-24 are not fit to serve in the military. i found that astounding. >> charlie: what should we do? >> we have to fix a broken system. >> charlie: charter schools are one way? >> charter schools... public charter schools are one way. it gives parents a choice. it allows the breast practices that they have to be emulated at other public schools. we need a longer school day, a longer school year. our kids are shortchanged. they only get 720 hours a year on average in academics. in other countries it's one-and-a-half times that. >> charlie: we have fallen behind other countries. >> we sure have. >> charlie: in a significant way. >> we used to have the number one graduation rate in the world. we are now about 20th.
in math scores and science scores, we're way down there in the 25th or 30th place in the world. and if our athletes did so poorly the american people would be incensed. we've got to fix this broken system. >> charlie: in science, where is your focus? >> genomeics. we started something called the broad institute with a great leader by the name of eric lander whom i think you know. it started about six-and-a-half years ago. he got all these people to collaborate with. engineers, math mathematician, computer scientists, biologists, physicists and others all working together. a new way to canuck science. we now have 1900 people there. we have $280 million research budget. i think it's number one in the world in genomeics. >> charlie: you have art,
education and science. your ongoing philanthropy continues. you will decide at 70-something you're going to write a book. >> i did. >> charlie: what was that about? what did you want to tell us? >> you know, people kept asking me, how did you start two fortune 500 companies in other industries. then the philanthropy, they see me in my 70s being involved in education reform actively, science, the arts, the city and so on. i said, you know what? maybe i ought to write something and give people an idea of how i've done all these things. and also share some of my mistakes with them. we wrote this book. called "the art of being unreasonable." >> charlie: where that come from, the idea? >> that comes from a george bernard shaw quote that my wife gave me a number of years ago. >> charlie: you have it on your desk. >> i do and still have it there. >> charlie: george bernard shaw says the reasonable man
adapts himself to the world. the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. therefore all progress depends upon the unreasonable man. you are the unreasonable man because? >> very demanding. i don't take no for an answer. i always ask why not when people say you can't do that. hasn't been done before. i say why not? and i listen. rarely do i get a great answer. if i don't get a great answer to why not, i go ahead. people think that's unreasonable. >> charlie: you're willing to risk in your pursuit of excellence, you're willing to risk people not loving you. because in the end it's not love for you. it's.... >> respect. >> charlie: respect. >> exactly. >> charlie: the controversy doesn't bother you. >> it bothers me a little bit but not all that much. >> charlie: as long as you can accomplish.... >> as long as i feel what i'm doing makes sense and it's toward a good goal. >> charlie: here are some of
the things you say in this book. ask a lot of questions. always ask a lot of questions. >> in school i asked questions until my teachers thought i was crazy. i've always asked questions. i've got a thirst for knowledge. i read four newspapers every day. >> charlie: pursue the untried. >> i do that too. >> charlie: the fact that no one has done it before is even a better reason to do it. revise expectations upward. >> i always set high goals for myself and others and i convince people that they can do more than they thought they could do. >> charlie: take risks. >> i do. >> charlie: be restless. >> i am restless. >> charlie: you're so restless there is a rule you have about three hours. never do anything more than three hours. >> i do have a three-hour rule and break it on rare occasion. >> charlie: a meal should never last more than three hours. >> including a social event or whatever.
i can't handle going to something for four, five, six hours. >> charlie: you also have this reputation of sort of going right through museums. you're not one that stops and lingers. >> i do look at all the pictures. >> charlie: but you don't linger. >> i don't linger. i may go through a museum 45 minutes. other people may take two hours. >> charlie: the idea behind that is you can get all you need.... >> all i need and look at the pictures and look at the labels sometimes. and think about it. and then move on. >> charlie: are you constantly thinking about acquisitions in art? >> yes. art becomes an addiction. a month doesn't go by when we don't buy art. we've been fortunate. we met some great artists early in their careers. >> charlie: they've been to your house too haven't they? >> they have indeed. they're good friends.
>> charlie: jeff coombs, what's the relationship? >> he's a dear friend. jeff coombs when we first met him, had financial difficulties. he had a terrible divorce. i won't get into all that. he needed money. people weren't buying his art. >> charlie: everybody read about him. >> i ended up buying three pieces of art from him. and then about a year later i went to his studio and he was doing a celebration series. i saw this great balloon dog. i thought it was great. so i wanted it. but they didn't have money to fabricate it so i did something i rarely do. i advanced $1 million ahead of time for him to do it. it took six years before i got it but i'm delighted. we buy his work. he currently has one painting for us that he's finishing and two pieces of sculpture. >> charlie: why this? >> well, the rabbit is an
iconic figure. that's... there are three others in the world. >> charlie: three others,. >> yes. >> charlie: what does it say to you? >> i smile every time i look at it. >> charlie: it's a continuing friendship and relationship. >> it is. >> charlie: who else do you care so much about that you buy a lot of their work? >> cindy sherman. every year. >> charlie: great exhibition in new york. >> great exhibition at the moment and she did new pictures at metro pictures down on 24th. we bought one of those. >> charlie: in los angeles you have a vision of making this city a what? >> i think los angeles is one of the four major cultural temples of the world. why do i think that? no one has a better symphony or symphony hall than we do. a great opera with domingo. we have more theatrical
productions than new york or london. >> charlie: and the conductor? >> he's great. before that we had (naming the canuckor). we've got great executives, deborah border heads the symphony. she used to be here at the new york film. in museums no one has more space, gallery space for contemporary art than los angeles museums. so i think we are becoming the contemporary art capital of the world. that commercially that's still here in new york and will be here in new york. we've got great art schools. great group of artists. there was a time, charlie, when for an artist to succeed they had to be in new york. no longer so. >> charlie: they can exist in l.a.? so new york has what we call museum mile. it goes from the guggenheim all the way down to moma and further. it obviously includes a couple of other things along the way.
you want to create that kind on grand avenue? >> yes. on grand avenue i was the founding chairman of the museum of contemporary art back in '79. there wasn't much there. today we've got an arts high school. a new cathedral. we've got walt disney concert hall. we've got the museum of contemporary art, as i mentioned. we have the school of music. we're building a new museum building. so within three blocks i can't think of any city that has such great architecture. >> charlie: here is where some of the controversy comes and some of the principles coming out of this. you are hell bent on getting your way. >> i am. i'm determined. >> charlie: because you believe the means justify the
ends? >> in ways, yes. >> charlie: the ends justify the means i mean. having a great city and having museums that arey flektive of the best art, having all that is never going to be easy. >> that's correct. and sharing all that with the broadest possible public. >> charlie: your cheery of a museum is not so much that it is an educational institution but it is what? >> no, no. i believe the purpose of a museum is to educate the broadest possible public but also to advance scholarship. >> charlie: and what about the permanent collection? >> i believe the permanent collection is the core of any museum. >> charlie: and should be seen. >> and should be seen. and at the museum of contemporary art i had the privilege of negotiating with the man by the name of the count, who had 80 great works. art. we built a museum. we have an endowment but no art. he was the trustee.
italian citizen. had the art in switzer land. the communist government then said, well, if you have property outside of italy you have to pay a big tax. he didn't have the money. he went to auction houses. they gave him an estimate. and he wasn't happy. he wanted to keep the collection together. so we talked and talked. i said, "we don't have that kind of money to give you, $11- $12 million." which we could get if we sold it at auction. i've got a better idea. the italian lira is deteriorating. he knew it and all the italians didn't have faith in their purse. i'll tell you what. i will get our museum to take $3 million temporarily out of endowment and give it to you and the rest we'll pay over the number of years. we ended up with a great
collection. he's happy. we're happy. >> charlie: that collection at the museum.... >> it is there. >> charlie: that was a little bit of a contest. was there any competition for that so that a kind of shared.... >> no, we lent a lot of work to the museum of contemporary. >> charlie: shouldn't it lend work to you? what's wrong with that? >> nothing. we have 2,000 works of art of our own. eventually we're going to change exhibitions every three or four months. our own collection. eventually we may want to borrow art from them. to augment what we already have in the collection. >> charlie: did you ever want to buy that? did you ever think i'll just buy his collection. >> i must tell you when i went to the executive committee and was a big advocate for them getting it, i was saying you know what? if they don't get it, i'll buy it. >> charlie: that was an incentive for them to do something.
>> i didn't tell them that. other collectors were after the collection. he liked the director there. >> charlie: did he say in los angeles or did he go back to italy? >> he lives in italy. he'd stay at our guest house whenever he came here. one of the things in his handwritten agreement was to provide space in our guest house whenever he came here. >> charlie: is that right? >> he was a dear friend, yeah, yeah. >> charlie: what are the lessons you have learned from that experience just the museum, cultural, contemporary art experience? terms of building institutions? because there are many who say that disney hall which fell on hard times because of the economic conditions of the time, would not have been built even though frank geary had already been committed to doing it. it was not being built and you came along. >> what happened is that walt disney's widow lillian gave $50 million. seven years went by.
they weren't raising money. the county had built a parking garage below it. people said it can't be built. too complicated. it's dead. ready to be buried. on the cover of "new york times" magazine all the architectural journals and i said to my friend who was then mayor we can't let this happen so we went to work and raised a couple hundred million dollars. >> charlie: and it got built. >> it got built. it's interesting. when it was built, when people saw pictures of it, they thought it was awful. all the comments in the l.a. times were critical. now everyone loves the building. >> charlie: the forward from this book comes from the mayor, michael bloomberg. he says, quote, we have all met unreasonable people in our lives. some of us have been called unreasonable or worse. if there's ever been someone qualified to write a book
that's pretty good. >> well said. >> charlie: that's a pretty good reflection of your life. >> it is. >> charlie: thank you for coming. >> delighted to be here. thank you. >> charlie: eli broad. the book is called "the art of being unreasonable." thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org